Houston Symphony ball chair Jana Arnoldy set one goal for Saturday night's gala — make it fun. Her co-chair and husband Scotty Arnoldy had another goal in mind — raise big bucks. They both succeeded wildly with Carnaval, held on stage and atop the seating at Jones Hall.
No symphony ball crowd has ever had more exhilarating fun while raising almost $1.5 million. Applause, applause for the Arnoldys.
Inhibitions of the traditionally stately crowd began dissipating on the red carpet where arrivals were greeted by Jana. No demure ballchair this one, she was dressed in red Alexander McQueen gown and a massive Rio-inspired headdress, and displayed her impressive salsa moves on the red carpet where she was joined by a coterie of costumed carnival dancers. The scantily-clad show girls and two heartthrob hunks were at play throughout the night.
The Brazilian-themed bash featured not only a samba presentation but also the talents of the world's top Brazilian chanteuse, Bebel Gilberto and after-dinner dancing with the samba crew to the irresistible sounds of David Caceres. For the after-party, chaired by Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, New York's DJ Kalkutta kept the dance floor rocking into the wee hours.
"This is what I hoped our carnaval in Houston would look like," Jana said as she surveyed the concert hall, cleverly engineered into a five-tiered dining area just as it was when Cora Sue and Harry Mach chaired the symphony ball in 2014. The Event's Company and Richard Flowers orchestrated the decor that included everything from large screens to light play on fabric drops to towering centerpieces replete with tropical flowers and fruit. Bananas, anyone?
The evening honored Sybil Roos; Lindy and John Rydman, with their Spec's Charitable Foundation and Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods; and symphony associate conductor Robert Franz.
One particular gent garnered much of the night's attention — Daniel Paltridge, Bulgari North America president, who had as many women swooning over his handsome looks as did the striking male samba dancers. Paltridge and Bulgari vice president Nathalie Diamantis flew in from New York to oversee the lavish selection of Bulgari auction items they had provided including an incredible trip to Rome. Bulgari also provided the party favors — a bottle of the new fragrance Thé Bleu and a $500 gift card.
Symphony leadership stepping out on this night included society board president Steve Mach and Joella, society chairman Bobby Tudor and Phoebe, endowment chair Jesse Tutor and Betty, development chair Jerry Simon and Lisa, special events chair Mary Lynn Marks and Steve, and symphony executive director and CEO Mark Hanson and Christina. Key to the evening's success were auction chairs Mary Ann and David McKeithan.
Taking to the dance floor were Lynn Wyatt, Brenda and Ed Jones, Margaret Alkek Williams, Carol and Mike Linn, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Susan and Dick Hansen, Lisa Rydman, Denise Monteleone and Jim Martin, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Joni Baird, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Brad and Joan Corson, and Cheryl and Sam Byington.